Growing and Saving the Seed of Ground Cherry
Husk cherry, cape gooseberry, and ground cherry all belong to the genus Physalis. There are subtle differences in flavor and plant height, but you can use this growing guide for all physalis. These delicious little fruits are related to tomatoes, and are encased in a papery husk. The fruit is sweet and makes a delicious snack.
There is a range of Physalis species native to the Americas, some of which are cultivated as commercial crops.
- Start transplants indoors 6-8 weeks before last average frost date.
- Sow seeds 1/8 inch deep.
- Ideal germination temperature is between 70-90 F and seedlings can be kept warm with a horticulture- grade heat mat.
- Seeds will germinate in 7-21 days.
- Space plants 18 inches apart in the garden with a nice layer of mulch (plastic, burlap, or straw mulch work great).
- Plant in full sun, provide average moisture.
- Fruit will drop to the ground when ripe; plastic or burlap mulch helps to catch the fruit and keep it clean and prevent rot.
- A generally pest- and disease-free plant
- Isolate different varieties by 500 feet. In order to ensure a strong genetic diversity, be sure to save fruit from a minimum of 5 plants.
- Seed saving this fruit is easy; just remove husks and blend the fruit with water.
- Allow the watery mix to separate. Pour off the separated pulp and water and save the seeds that settled on the bottom.
- Strain seeds and air dry, then store them in a dark, dry, cool location.
- If properly stored, seeds will remain viable for up to 6 years.